Football: Davison ups the tempo

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The Independent Online
Birmingham City. 0

Leicester City. .2

IF THE Midlands fails to yield at least one new member of the Premier League next season it will be in defiance of statistical probability. Defined by the limits of Central Television transmissions, the area provides one-third of the current First Division. Little wonder that Central are giving their viewers a third option for their live Sunday entertainment.

Derby versus Oxford is today's offering. It could easily have been Birmingham against Leicester, two sides whose ambitions are no less lofty than their big-spending rivals at the Baseball Ground.

Derby, the club in which Lionel Pickering, the owner, has invested pounds 12m of his personal fortune, are favourites to emerge on top of the bunch but they face strong competition, not least from Leicester, who went a stage further than Derby in last season's play-offs and were considered by many to be unlucky losers when Blackburn triumphed at Wembley.

Brian Little has traded as actively as Arthur Cox, his Derby counterpart, the difference being that he can point to a pounds 1.2m profit and a healthier league position.

Yesterday Leicester were comfortable winners at St Andrews, where Birmingham never looked likely to reply to goals by Bobby Davison, the 33-year-old former Derby and Leeds striker, and Julian Joachim, making only his third appearance at 18.

Davison, a snip at a mere pounds 50,000 before the season began, enlivened what had until then been a poor quality contest when he glanced Steve Walsh's header past Les Sealey. Joachim, a West Indian raised in Peterborough and Boston, Lincolnshire, scored with an instinctive left-foot shot inside the Birmingham area for his second goal in two games.

Terry Cooper, the Birmingham manager and a former Leeds and England full-back, spent only pounds 75,000 in total in his summer dealings, believing that the side that won promotion from the old Third Division can rise to greater heights. On yesterday's evidence, it might be an optimistic view, although a long injury list is not making his task easier.

Leicester looked stronger as the match progressed with much of their most impressive movement being prompted by the excellent Steve Thompson. Had Sealey not produced a splendid save from him just before Joachim's goal, the margin of victory would have been more emphatic.

Birmingham City: L Sealey; I Clarkson, J Frain, T Matthewson, D Rogers, M Hicks, I Rodgerson, P Tait (D Rennie, 52 min), D Rowbotham (M Sale, 73 min), N Gleghorn, L Donowa. Manager: T Cooper.

Leicester City: R Hoult; G Mills (S Grayson, 70 min), M Whitlow, R Smith, S Walsh, C Hill, D Oldfield, S Thompson, B Davison, I Ormondroyd, J Joachim (P Gee, 83 min). Manager: B Little.

Referee: K Barratt (Coventry).

Goals: Davison (28 min, 0-1); Joachim (49 min, 0-2).